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ness of the
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Churchleads to sepa
tinued members of the church, only pursuing courses of their own in administering the ordi- Pertinaciousnances, and it was not till about the middle Puritan secof the reign of Elizabeth that the disposi- English tion was manifested among them to break bation away from the church altogether, and to form communities of their own. And then it was but a few of them who took this course : the more sober part remained in the church. The communities of persons who separated themselves were formed chiefly in London : there were very few in the distant counties, and those had no long continuance. It was not till the time of the Civil Wars that such bodies of Separatists, as they were called, or Congregationalists, or Independents, became numerous. At first they were often called Brownist churches, from Robert Brown, a divine of the time, who was for a while a zealous maintainer of the duty of separation. It was urged for these Communities, or as they called themselves Churches, that beside being formed on the Scripture model, and that those who belonged to them escaped from the tyranny of the authorities in the English church, they had two other advantagesfacility in excluding immoral persons from churchfellowship, and the liberty of making fresh changes in opinion or practice should fresh light break in upon them.
THE BODY OF PERSONS WHO LAID THE FOUNDATION Porrez com. OF NEW PLYMOUTH, WAS ONE OF THESE gregation of Separatists
CHURCHES OR COMMUNITIES OF PURITAN the Founders of New Ply- SEPARATISTS : persons so impatient under mouth,
the yoke of the ceremonies which had been continued in the Reformed Church of England, that they had begun to regard it as unlawful to remain in the church, and who had formed themselves in church order, based upon their own principles, and consisting of a people with the offices of pastor, teacher, elders, and deacons. It was not one of the London Communities of this kind; but, what gives this subject the greater interest, it was a church that had been formed in quite a rural district in a county far remote from London.
It remained, till the publication of my “CollecOld state- tions” on this subject, an undetermined ments respect ing the site of question to what point we are to look church for the place of meeting of this church or community, for discipline and worship, and consequently from what English population the members
of it were gathered. Dr. Cotton Mather, whose Magnalia, a folio volume, printed in 1702, contains much valuable information concerning New England, and its early settlers, is content with saying, after Morton, in his New England's Memorial, 1669, that the founders of New Plymouth came from “the North of England.” Hubbard, another early writer on the affairs of New England, uses the same expression. Prince, however, in 1736, is a little more particular. He tells us, on the authority of William Bradford, a principal member of the church, who has left several historical writings, that the persons who first settled themselves at New Plymouth, were “religious people, who lived near the joining borders of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire.” This, though it left the mind at liberty to range over a considerable tract of country, was a great advance on the vague statements of Morton, Mather, and Hubbard. Prince, however, though he marks the passage as if it were an actual quotation from Bradford's manuscript, has not given us the very words as they have since appeared in Dr. Young's publication of Brad
5 See vol. v. of the Second Series of Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, p. 42.
ford's Remains, where the passage to which Prince referred stands thus :—“These people,” that is the persons who were Puritan Separatists, “became two distinct bodies or churches, in regard of distance of place, and did congregate severally, for they were of several towns and villages, some in Nottinghamshire, some in Lincolnshire, and some in Yorkshire, where they bordered nearest together.” One of these two churches was at Gainsborough, a well-known place, the other, which is that about which we are now concerned, was elsewhere.
Bradford's writings are exceedingly valuable, mined-Braid though we have for ever reason to regret ford's historical writings." that he shuts up so many things in general expressions, avoiding in the most tantalizing manner, nearly all specialty or particularity in the information which he gives us. Yet it is to a passage in another of his writings that we are indebted for the information which enables me now to dispel all uncertainty on this point, and to fix the locality of this church or community to a particular place. “They ordinarily met,” says he, in his Life of William Brewster, “at his house on the Lord's Day, which was a manor of the bishop's, and with great love he entertained them when they came, making provision for them to his great charge, and continued so to do whilst they could stay in England." This, when it is combined with the preceding note of place, “near the joining borders of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire,” guides us at once to the village of SCROOBY, in the Hundred of Basset-Lawe, a part of North Nottinghamshire, well known in parliamentary history;
6 Much used by Prince in his Chronological History of New England, Boston, 1736, but little known till the publication of Dr. Alexander Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of New Plymouth, from 1602 to 1625, now first collected from original records and contemporaneous printed documents and illustrated with notes, Boston, 8vo, 1844. The portions which are used in this treatise are, 1, Governor Bradford's History of Plymouth Colony, p. 1-97. His Dialogue or the Sum of a Conference between some young men born in New England and sundry ancient men that came out of Holland and Old England, p. 414459; and his Memoir of Elder William Brewster, p. 461-471. To these I shall have frequent occasion to refer, and I have availed myself in some places of the very valuable notes with
availea se I She Memois
which Dr. Young has enriched this publication. Prince appears to have been acquainted with writings of Bradford which are not known now to exist. See his preface, p. 6, and Mather's account of Bradford has every appearance of having been founded on writings of Bradford himself not now existing.
7 Young, p. 465.